As I report in this week’s The Stage, 82% of last year’s 16 year old leavers from Sylvia Young Theatre School (SYTS) got 5 or more A* to C grades at GSCE including the crucial maths and English.
That puts the school academically streets ahead of most mainstream schools whose 2008 average was 47.2% (including English and maths). Yet SYTS students do all their academic work in just three days per week so that those precious two days are available at the end of each week for their specialist acting, singing and dancing work. Given that the school is academically non-selective (of course) and that some of the children have special needs it’s a remarkable achievement by any standards.
But, actually, it isn’t unique either. If you look at the other full time stage schools and the music and dance schools funded by means tested government grant to pupils you find a clear pattern. They nearly all turn out high level academic results as well as high calibre performers.
At Chethams School for Music in Manchester, for example, 100% of last year’s Year 11 got 5 or more A*-Cs (including English and maths) and the school achieves this almost every year. At Arts Educational School in London 100% of the girls and 79% of the boys did likewise.
Why is this? Surely it can’t be because performing arts-inclined youngsters are ‘brighter’? Hardly, given that the intake is usually academically very mixed. The only selection is for performing arts, music or dancing potential.